Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Golden Mile to Murder by Sally Spencer (aka Alan Rustage)

First Sentence:  Behind them shone the bright lights of Blackpool, ahead of them lay the darkness of the Irish Sea.

DCI Charlie Woodend is out of Scotland Yard and banished by his new boss, SD Ainsworth to Blackpool—without his right arm, Bob Rutter, to investigate the murder of a Blackpool policeman.  There, he is assigned DS Monika Paniatowski, who has issues of her own, not the least of which is being the first female sergeant in Blackpool.  They are also up against a squad determined to prevent Woodend from finding out too much.
      
The book opens with a classic scene of a young couple at the beach, but the scene has a very non-classic ending.  At the end of the first chapter, there’s no question that you’ll go on to read the rest.
      
Spencer provides wonderful descriptions of Woodend’s return to the town in which he grew up and that feeling of both familiarity and foreignness one can have…”So perhaps you never really could go back, he thought—because back wasn’t there any longer.”
      
The best description of Woodend is given by an officer who’d worked with him previously…”You don’t really know the meaning of the term “bloody-minded” until you’ve worked the Cloggin’-it Charlie.  He’s stubborn, unreasonable, relentless, and possibly the best policeman it’s ever been my privilege to work with.”  He is also a fan of Dickens, hard, but fair and, it turns out, a very good team leader and boss to the young, female, D.S.  Monika’s background is very much incorporated into the story.  Spencer’s representation of a woman who has experienced that which Monika has done, is painfully accurate. 
      
Spencer’s descriptions can be delightful, particularly that of Woodend’s landlady…”She was a real dragon, Woodend thought admiringly. If Saint George had had to face a creature like Mrs. Bowyer in this quest to free the maiden, he would have abandoned the girl to her fate and gone off in search of the nearest pub.” He also provide an excellent sense of time by including references to books, television shows—Bonanza--and movies—The Guns of Navarone—of the time.
     
TheGolden Mile to Murder” is an excellent mystery that is so well plotted.  Not only did I not identify the killer, but the epilogue provides a wonderful “WOW” moment.

THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER (Pol Proc-DCI Charlie Woodend-Blackpool, England-1960s/Contemp) - Ex
Sally Spencer (aka Alan Rustage) – 5th in series
Severn House, 2001

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